Steps to help prevent combine fires

Combine fires account for many of our harvest losses each year contributing to lost time and potential yield loss.

Fall is peak season for combine fires. The drier conditions and the buildup of crop residue make for a textbook fire atmosphere.

You can help reduce fire risk by taking proactive measures:

  • Clean the unit after each day's harvest. This will help cut down on the crop residue.
  • Extensive buildup of caked-on grease can increase the risk of fire. Oil or crop residue should be cleaned with a pressure washer.
  • Complete proper maintenance without delay. Worn bearings and belts could cause a spark which could lead to a fire as well.
  • Another main culprit for a harvester to catch fire is when flammable material comes in contact with the exhaust system. Protect the exhaust system with proper shields and original replacements.
  • Be sure to mount at least one 5-lb., dry-chemical fire extinguisher with a multi-purpose ABC rating on the equipment.
  • Thoroughly clean any fuel spills before starting the engine.
  • Conduct daily inspections before combining.
  • All employees should be trained on proper cleaning and inspection procedures.

In today's world we have a number of ways in which to communicate. The operator should always carry a cell phone or two-way radio for emergency situations.

If you are able, in the event of a fire, attempt to drive the combine to an area away from the crops to help minimize risk. Before using the fire extinguisher make sure to turn off the engine. The running engine could compromise the extinguishing agents.

Being prepared and taking proactive measures for combine fires can reduce the risk from a large loss to a much smaller loss, not to mention lost harvest time.


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